Archive for ‘KIM’S FAVORITES’
February 10, 2017
My friend Missy Casselli introduced me to the Ravioli Company more than 15 years ago. She asked if I’d ever been – that she met a nice couple and suggested I go. When I walked into their first store on Platt Street and smelled the smells, and took a bite of their homemade knot rolls I knew I was hooked.
This many years later, Dwight and Lauren Otis are great friends. It has been fun to watch their growth. They provide ravioli for many restaurants all around the Bay area, including Carmel Kitchen whom I consult for.
The care, passion, and love they put into each ravioli, lasagna, sauce, meatball is immediately felt upon the first bite of one of their homemade products. This is no ordinary mom & pop. They have a knack, a talent for making good food – and Lauren always greets you with a friendly smile.
Once I dropped 3 gallons of my homemade marinara sauce an hour before it had to be served. I panicked big-time. What will I do? I am very particular about what I serve to my clients – it all must be top quality and homemade. I called Lauren and Dwight and they hooked me up; and wouldn’t even let me pay. True friendship.
I remember walking in one day and Dwight making me a special caprese sandwich on one of their homemade knot rolls and handed it to me as I was walking out the door. It might be the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. But even better is their friendship.
I love walking into their shop on Manhattan and delighting in the labyrinth of smells as soon as my nose breaches the door. Wonderful goodness.
3413 South Manhattan Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629
11:00am to 7:00pm – Tuesday thru Saturday
February 10, 2017
Tampa has such a rich Spanish, Latin, Cuban, and Italian heritage. I got my first inkling (or tasting) of authentic Italian food as a first grader at Most Holy Name Catholic School in Ybor City…right across the street from the old Garcia’s Instant Service station. While the school is long gone – I still drive by the huge old oak tree which is still there.
I often remember being invited to my friend’s home for dinner and being served tomato gravy made the true Italian way…and watching my friend’s mom make cannoli shells from scratch, even her ricotta cheese was homemade. Her tomato gravy (or sauce as us gringo’s call it) had pork, meatballs, and sometimes even chicken and hard-boiled eggs in it…which was always an extra treat.
I was the ripe old age of six was when I first became aware of Cacciatore and Sons, who have been serving Tampa for 100 years or better. Italian sausage is a mainstay in my home and if I am not making it myself – there is only one place I will buy it from – and that is Cacciatore and Sons.
Cacciatore and Sons
3614 North Armenia Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33607
Open Monday thru Saturday 8:30am to 6:00pm
January 06, 2017
…I stopped to eat lunch last week, on a beautiful cool Friday afternoon, with a friend and my dog Nikki at Fodder and Shine on Florida Avenue in Seminole Heights. I know our server was happy, for we ordered just about everything on the menu…for it all looked so delicious…I couldn’t help myself.
I started with two housemade spreads of pimento cheese and black eyed peas with Cuban crostini’s, pickled onions, and jalapenos. We cleaned that plate. Then we ordered the meatloaf, the chicken pot pie, the Carolina BBQ chicken, side of bacon fat cornbread served with honey and butter, mashed potatoes, RC Cola Baked Black Eyed Peas, and all 3 desserts they were offering that day. Mind you, there were only 2 people and a dog.
The standouts that I would order again were: The meatloaf with a creamy mustard gravy, served with PBR (Pabst Blue Ribben) infused Mac & Cheese, creamed kale, the chicken pot pie, the Carolina BBQ chicken, side of bacon fat cornbread served with honey and butter, mashed potatoes, RC Cola Baked Black Eyed Peas, and all 3 desserts, and the spreads. Wait, can it be? Everything I ate – I would order again? That’s right.
On my next visit I am ordering the hand pounded country fried steak, the hardwood smoked mullet, the cornmeal fried chicken, the Frito pie, the fried green tomatoes, the butternut squash soup, the classic cheeseburger, and all 3 desserts they are offering. Who wants to come with me? Text me at (813) 928-2210 and I’ll meet you there.
Owners Greg Baker, and his wife Michelle (also owners of the ever popular The Refinery) – have done a super job with this menu. It’s a fun bar as well, and has an eclectic atmosphere with games in the dining room.
Yes, I like this place. And yes, I will be back. Any yes again, I recommend you go.
Fodder and Shine
5910 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33604
November 07, 2016
The Google” directed me to a wonderful place in Zephyrhills when I typed in Fried Whole-Belly Ipswich Clams one day last week. My favorite places for fried clams are The Clam Box in Ipswich, and Woodman’s in Essex, both in Massachusettes. When I operated Bailey’s Restaurant, we would have them flown in right from Ipswich.
When The Chowder House popped up as serving these delicious clams – and whole belly at that, well, I was on my way. And yes, it does take an hour from my house – but it was well worth the drive.
The Chowder Hous Ipswich fried clams were pefectly battered, perfectly fried, and perfectly briny sweet as they should be. Honestly, they may have been better than any I’ve had on the North Shore but it may have been that I was pining for my mom and dad. My mom was from Boston, and the first things us kids would do as we hit the shores of Boston in our Bill Currie Ford Country Squire station wagon, was to scream out: “Fried Clams” – and my dad would heed the calling and head right to the nearest local seafood market for a mess of these clams. Yes! We were happy campers.
A major homorable mention must go to the Lobster Roll – it was fresh and loaded with lobster – with no fillers.
Of course The Chowder House serves other fresh seafood as well – and everything I took a bite of (scallops, seabass, shrimp) were all great – but for me – I was being a “one trip pony” for my clams. Go. Go Now.
The Chowder House
Zephyrhills, Florida 3541
October 13, 2016
Tampa finally has a good place to buy authentic New York bagels once again, with The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company. It took me way to long to visit, but when I did, I was blown away by the taste.
Ever since Sunshine Bagels on South Dale Mabry closed a few years back we really haven’t had a good bagel company. Which is amazing for a town this size. Before baking them, they are boiled in Brooklyn Water…really…giving them the taste of an authentic New York bagel. I like them a lot, especially with Philadelphia Brand cream cheese and my homemade orange marmalade on a Sunday morning while I read the Sunday New York Times. What could be better?
The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company
111 South Dale Mabry HWY
FedEx Plaza – Dale Mabry & Kennedy
Tampa, Florida 33609
October 13, 2016
My niece Brittany who lives in Winter Park turned me on to the Winter Park Fish Company, which is a place to get really “fresh” seafood and lots of it to fill you to the gills. While it is a hole-in-the-wall with limited seating inside and out – I highly recommend this hideaway if you like the taste of really good seafood prepared well, especially if you are in the area.
They immediately bring to your table a fresh tuna salad with Ritz crackers – it is definitely not from a can and nowhere near the recipe our mom’s made for school lunches.
Of course, I ordered a number of items for I have to do proper research for our loyal readers. The fried shrimp, scallop and fish platter is abundant, served with fritters, fries, and slaw, and was all perfectly cooked. The grilled grouper tacos were awesome, as was the seared ahi tuna salad plate. They have a wide array of offerings that I can’t wait to try on my next visit – and even have a counter where you can buy fresh raw seafood to take home.
Wait!!! Did I mention desserts? For a hole-in-the-wall, they know how to do desserts…which are all homemade and delicious. My fave was the brownie covered in warm caramel and topped with vanilla ice cream. I’d go there just for that. Decadent.
Winter Park Fish Company
761 North Orange Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
September 01, 2016
I found this out of the way sandwich shop up near Drew Park behind Yankee Stadium. Let’s see, how would I describe it – a cross between a beech-house and something you would see on the Food Network show Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. It is well worth the visit. Nothing fancy, just good homemade sandwiches…pressed of course…as in the name, AJ’s Press.
The Mexican meatball is a must have, along with the jalapeno bacon hushpuppies, and the beer braised brisket.
4406 North Cortez Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33614
August 25, 2016
On Swann has opened for lunch, and they are serving a super BLT. I love BLT’s but rarely order them outside because restaurants just don’t put enough bacon on them. I put no less than 7 slices on my homemade BLT’s…yes, 7 slices. Remember, the sandwich is called BACON, lettuce, and tomato – it starts with bacon so it should have plenty of it…at least on my sandwich.
I wanted to show you a picture of it, but I forgot, and ate it before I could snap a pic of On Swann’s decadent sandwich which also is made with avocado and plenty of Applewood smoked bacon. I ordered extra bacon on mine. You will love it.
There are two other things worth mentioning on their lunch menu: 1) tomato soup with their cheese toast, and 2) their chicken sandwich. Both delicious for a hearty lunch.
1501 West Swann Avenue – Old Hyde Park Village
Tampa, Florida 33606
June 23, 2016
Who doesn’t LOVE doughnuts? Well, I certainly do. Admittedly, I am a plain cake, glaze, jelly, or toasted coconut kind of doughnut lover. My uncle Eddie took me to the original Dunkin Donuts in Quincy, Massachusetts when I was 6 or 7, and from then on, I was hooked. Chocolate glazed cake donuts were my favorite back then.
As president of the Student Council at Plant High way back when, we had so many Krispy Kreme donut drives to raise money they called me Mr. Donut. Can you believe we sold a box of a dozen donuts for $.50 (that’s a box, not a dozen) and still made enough money to fund whatever pet project we were championing. I often remember waiting for the donuts to come off the line – hot and fresh moving from the long silver conveyor belt into the vat of glistening glaze, at the Kennedy location next to WTVT. They made them fresh and served them hot at various times during the day.
Well, for you doughnut lovers out there…you must try the Mini Doughnut Factory on Dale Marbry a block or so from Plant High. But be prepared to wait in line – for they are always busy. Busy because they are a true hit with everyone who tries them.
Owners Patrick and Zezura Ruddell appeared on my radio show a couple weeks ago and were absolutely delightful. You can tell they have a keen since of humor just by taking a look at their many crazy doughnut toppings: Cotton Candy (strawberry icing with cotton candy pop rocks), the Sweet Pig (maple icing with bacon), Peanut Butter Crunch (peanut butter icing with crushed butterfingers), I could go on-and-on listing their many tantalizing flavors, but you need to experience these gems yourself. Even if it is just the boring ones like I order (chocolate or vanilla iced), you will find yourself caught up in the fun and great tastes of donut heaven, aptly called The Mini Doughnut factory.
DONUT TRIVIA: Doughnuts or Donuts, both spellings are grammatically correct. Dunkin spells it Donuts and Krispy Kreme spells them Doughnuts. Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937 in Winston Salem, North Carolina and has 1003 locations in 26 countries, and Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts and has over 11,000 locations literally everywhere in the world.
MINI DOUGHNUT FACTORY
2109 South Dale Mabry
Tampa, Florida 33629
June 16, 2016
Thoroughly sourced new American cuisine
What better name for a restaurant located in the heart of Old Hyde Park on Swann Avenue than, “On Swann”. It was like an Abbott and Costello movie when I was telling a friend to meet me at On Swann. “Where is it?” he queried. On Swann, I said. “What’s the name?” On Swann. Well, you know how that goes.
This three week old restaurant on the corner of Swann and Oregon is set to be a hallmark of Old Hyde Park Village. I grew up on Newport Avenue and only wish there was something like this I could have ridden my bike to…well, I guess at age 10 I wouldn’t have had the palate for the Spicy Carrot Soup I now have — it’s delicious.
Co-owners Chef Chris Ponte (owner of Café Ponte in Clearwater), and longtime restaurateur Trudy Cooper (co-founder of Outback) have really made this a “must-eat” destination – and in a short 3 week period. My friend Jon Palmer Claridge had raves in his Creative Loafing review and I do as well.
As usual, I tried many items and found them exceptionally tasty – especially given the fact that it has only been open for 3 short weeks…and the service, it was exceptional – with the most knowledgeable server I have ever had – she was phenomenal. I will be going back this next week to try the 27 ounce rib-eye. Should I share?
1501 West Swann